Silvia Trkman- Running Contacts!

Tonight was the part I was most looking forward to out of Silvia's visit to Minnesota!  Even though all her steps to teaching a running contact are posted on her website, free for all, I needed to hear her in person.  I found I did some things wrong in the beginning and some things that aren't bad but I will do different for the next dog.

1.  I was way too strict in criteria from the get go.  In the beginning she doesn't look at feet placement at all, just watches for running.  Eventually she jackpots the lower hits, but by limiting Vito's options so early it will be harder for him to maintain criteria and he will have to slow down a bit at certain times to make the low hit.

In my defense I STILL can not see hind feet separation.  I was watching the dogs new to RCs just run over the plank and couldn't see it.  I could tell the obvious jumps and could get a sense of what was great and what sucked, but I really have a hard time.

Just make sure you are getting flat out running. If the dog isn't running full out then it's not going to tell you anything about their final behavior when they're going to be amped up in competition.

2. I progressed the early stages way too slowly. It doesn't have an effect in the long run, but there was no reason for me to go in height brick by brick.  Do make sure your dog has a very high success rate though.

3.  Have the reward out far!  She prefers throwing as it gets most dogs more excited, but I'm a horrible thrower and could never throw early enough (before the dog gets to the down plank) and be somewhat accurate.  So I placed the toy down but didn't have it out far enough.  Having the toy only 10ft from the end was likely creating more jumping.  I also could have put the toy between a jump standard to make it easier for Vito to see and as a bonus to encourage the dog to drive to a jump from the early stages.  If you do throw the toy, throw it early, before the dog starts running down the plank.

4. Start the dog farther back.  With Vito I was very limited on this as I didn't/don't really have a DW and didn't have anything to use nor the space for it.  But for future dogs it helps if they have room to get up to speed before hitting the plank, especially in those early stages.

5.  No need to vary your position early on.  Silvia's lazy and doesn't bother and has never had a problem with the dog generalizing.  Vito had problems with me working on this in the early stages and I guess it was just added work for us.
6.  Don't practice the aframe until you're very happy with the DW.  When you do start it, start with it lowered but within 2 sessions raise it to full height.  Then never practice just the aframe again, only do it in sequences and never reward it!  Crazy but she says it works!

7. A 90 degree turn really isn't a turn.  Unless the dog is super long strided there is really no reason to tell the dog left/right until they are taking their last stride on the DW.  Your position and calling the dog should be plenty.

8. When working on very tight turns look for front feet hits.  Silvia prefers jackpoting hind feet making the contact normally as it is physically easier for the dog to get but it creates wider turns. 

When it was Vito's turn to go he did pretty bad!  Lots of jumping even for a jump that really wasn't a turn.  He actually did much better without any stick which is surprising since he should be very used to having a stick at the bottom to help with turning.  Because he was doing so bad, Silvia recommended doing some side loading to practice wrapping around the pole.  I hadn't thought of this before and am very excited to continue working on it!  I'm hoping if it can teach Vito to go to the bottom and turn very tight then actual turns shouldn't be that hard.  Vito seemed to be starting to get it by the end at least.

And as a bonus I asked about running contacts with a corgi who runs like a bunny.  Little hind feet separation!  Silvia thinks that it shouldn't be a problem as long as I know how he runs normally and compares his stride length to running on the plank.  She didn't pick up on hind feet separation as a cue until after Bu (or during Bu?) so it is very possible to train her method without paying attention to that!  I'm not sure that I am going to change Lance's contact criteria (again!) but it has been in the back of my mind.  I know he doesn't like stopping and thus our issues with his 4 on the floor in a trial.  I am also not happy with the way he sometimes jumps off and lands like a brick.


Silvia Trkman- Run More, Talk More

Vito ran in the intermediate dog handling seminar by Siliva today!  I was very nervous for me and the baby dog especially since we do not practice courses anything like what was presented!  We run in a class with a NADAC judge instructor and just started competing in NADAC and CPE.  Yup, we have never practiced pushing to the backside of jumps, have never done a simple 270, and very rarely practice wrapping.  Vito and I were very much out of our element and loved it!  I am also excited to report that every single one of Vito's aframes and all but one of his dogwalks were perfect!  Unfortunately my brain seemed to be shutting down and by the end I was just handling like an idiot!

I can sum up Silvia's advice in four word: Run more, talk more!  She loves blinds and front crosses as it speeds dogs up.  Always telling us to just run and never stand still.  Silvia also believes that we need to take advantage of being allowed to run and talk at the same time!  Repeating cues can help create drive and also gives them a constant stream of information.  You don't have to worry about timing of giving the cue since if you're too early you'll have plenty of more times to repeat it and are bound to get one of the words in at that crucial moment!  And talking is one way Silvia keeps the connection between her and her dogs on course when she isn't always looking at them.  And of course Siliva is huge on having different cues for different behaviors.  Wrapping needs a separate verbal cue from jumping in extension and using the outside arm to precue a dog they're turning vs inside arm for sending straight. 

I found out that Vito and I need lots of work on the following:
- Turning out of a tunnel.  He comes out real wide and is not prepared to do those tight 180's. 
- Call to hand!  I thought this was a solid skill of ours but apparently not when there are so many more fun options out there.
- Learning a wrap cue or at the very least practice them!
- Practicing sending to the backside of a jump and put it on verbal cue.
- Me not losing my brain when doing quick successions of  front crosses, backy uppys, or any other maneuver like that!
- I'm a pretty silent handler and need not being afraid of talking to Vito on tight courses.

Here's video of the courses.  We made a LOT of mistakes and spent about 5-6 minutes out on each course.  To make it easier on the eyes I edited so each mistake is only shown about once and then we move on to the next one :P

Very much looking forward to tomorrow's mini seminar on running contacts!!! 


Silvia Trkman- Tricks pt 1!

OMG!  I've been like a little schoolgirl since I got to meet my hero tonight!  Silvia Trkman is in town and I am giddy with joy :)  Lance is entered in the trick seminar that was this evening and part two on Tuesday.  It was an absolute blast.  Even though I can't really say I learned anything new since I am one of those crazy obsessive girls who watches her youtube videos over and over again, it was really good to be able to practice some of the tricks with Lance and really focus.  I focus much more on what I'm rewarding in a class setting than at home.  Lance is tired and probably ate more treats in those two hours then the food he gets over two days!  Here are the tricks we worked on and then we went over a few more:

1. Wrap a foot around a pole.  This was perfect as I have really been wanting to teach Lance to hold an object in his paws but have been struggling with the stubbyness of it.  I haven't used a pole before and Lance rotated through circling it, biting it, nose targeting it, and using his paw.  It wasn't long before he had a really good foot wrap and I was soon able to put him into a beg and ask for the behavior.  I'm sure he can't do it with an object not being supported by the floor but it was good to see that he CAN get there if I find an object slender enough for his paws to hold!

2. Pivoting on a block.  Silvia is huge on this and is how she teaches heel position.  Since Lance already knows this very well and can do it without the block and can sidestep and back up, Silvia wanted me to try back feet on and pivoting.  Lance quickly offered me the 2o2o position and then I started using pressure to get the pivoting.  I wanted to mainly free shape so I didn't use a lot of pressure at first but then gave up and used my body more.  We ended with Lance able to go 90 degrees but as soon as he got to 180 he would switch to doing a full circle and put his front feet back on the block to do so.

3. Duration of holding a leg in the air.  Lance has both front feet for this and can do both hind legs but only with me pointing.  I wanted to get rid of the pointing so put the block behind us again.  This was hard for the corig but he did start quickly offering the leg lifts with the block about 1-2ft behind me.  By the end we had duration of 3 seconds on the back right so I switched to back left and got 2 seconds.

4.  Backing onto an object- Handstand.  I was going to to sit this one out for obvious reasons but Silvia thought it would be ok for the corgi to work on as long as he always had support in the position.  So we got the block back out and told poor Lance that I again wanted 2 back feet instead of 1 :P   I was able to raise it pretty high and to a point where I didn't think he could lift one leg and then the other onto it anymore but he proved me wrong by really stretching with his foot.

5. Beg- Penguin.  I have really wanted to teach Lance the penguin trick but have had zero luck with getting him to go forward.  We have had some success with getting the back up in beg going though.  As it turns out Silvia teaches the forward movement pretty earlier on so that the dog is still learning balance and wobbles a bit.  It's much easier to get the foot moving forward to steady oneself than if they are already have great balance and strength.  At this point Lance was getting very tired so I didn't practice too much.  But I was thrilled to have a few a few instances where his hind foot moved half an inch!

After the seminar I asked Silvia if she thought Corgis could hold a paw over their nose as I have been struggling with Lance's duration.  She wasn't sure as they apparently don't have too many corgis in Solvenia but thought that since Lance can cross his paws and can swipe at his nose that it would be possible.  It took me months to teach the crossing of his paws the first time and then another few weeks to teach the other direction.  So I guess I'll keep working on it!


The anatomy of a 4 on the floor contact

Pictures from the NADAC New Years trial!  See he was a good boy in the ring, finally :)

Thanks to Amy of Great Dane Photos!


Obedience Practice

I have been focusing on 3 things with Lance: go outs, scent articles, and heeling.  I'm sure forging will be a constant battle despite the progress we have made but I feel like we could be ready for utility by summer.

Go outs- Lance can do 1.5x the distance of the full go out now the first attempt, no back chaining.  I have started doing most of them with the jumps up now and I think it just clicked that he isn't supposed to go over any jump after all!  Today though I was working on a long distance send and forgot there was a broad jump set out perpendicular to his path.  Lance headed out to his spot with great drive but then did a double check when he saw the broad jump and veered towards it before I called him off. 

Also today Lance noted a piece off fuzz 2 feet in front of him and thought he was supposed to mark it.  When I verbally corrected his mistake Lance thought he wasn't supposed to move from his sit at all.  I had to take a step forward to send him out and Lance made a wide birth around the fuzz before coming back to the original straight line.  We of course try the same setup again to work through our issue and again Lance doesn't move at first and then veers widely around the fuzz.  Silly corgi.

Go outs are also being done immediately after the glove exercise but so far I haven't been able to replicate his mistake in trials of going out to where the glove was.  I haven't been leaving the gloves out since I wasn't sure if he was ready for that level of proofing but perhaps it will help his confusion between the exercises?

I am still sending him all the way to the barrier to touch it and then asking for the sit.  I am also walking out to reward him and am doing the directed jumping portion separate.

Scent Articles- We lost a little confidence the past few weeks and went back to 4-6 articles out.  On the first send Lance was picking up the right one, turning, and then dropping it to re search the pile before eventually bringing it back to me.  Seems to be better now.  Lance is even letting out a bark on the turn and send!  Not worried about that becoming a habit yet; right now I'm just happy he's happy about articles.

Heeling- It's going great when we practice by ourselves!  Lance still needs me to back up most sessions but  usually only once!  However heeling in his weekly class he is much more likely to forge.  There's usually only one other dog and the instructor but I guess it's enough to amp him up more!


Keeps getting worse

I made a poor decision today and now I am hoping it doesn't cause any more setbacks then we've already had.  Vito has slowly been doing worse when being left home alone and now howling has become a regular part of it.  But he has been doing fantastic with being left in a crate at trials and class when other people are around.  Vito has even done well in a crate at my work when left for up to 30 minutes with no one around.

In a desperate attempt to have a less anxious Vito I crated him with several bones instead of leaving him loose when I was gone this morning for an hour.  To say Vito was anxious would be an understatement.  He didn't touch any of the bones, whined continuously for the entire 68minutes, trembled, and then started major panting.  It is heartbreaking to watch the video footage.

We hardly ever leave Vito alone anymore and it looks like that isn't going to be changing.


A one lab limit!

The past week and a half we have been fostering little Avery.  Avery is another service dog in training whose official puppy raisers didn't want to pick up until they turned in their current dog for final training.  She just turned 16wks.

Having two labs in my little rented basement is just ridiculous!  At first we left Chuck in the kennels so we wouldn't have 4 dogs, 5 ferrets, and the cat in our little space.  Dealing with a puppy was work but it wasn't too bad.  Vito wouldn't come off the couch as the floor was dangerous with a puppy afoot; Lance was a bit more tolerant but still had quiet the evil faces going.

But then we brought home the Chuckles who was overjoyed to have his very own puppy!  Chuck can not bare to be separated from his puppy and follows her everywhere. They are constantly playing or running around together and just causing chaos!  Even when napping they must curl up near each other.  It is so cute it is sickening!

Chuck likes to grab a nylabone, walk over to Avery, and lay down with her while she chews on the end sticking out of his giant jaws.  They will do this for serveral minutes and Chuck will even move the nylabone around in his mouth so that it sticks out whatever side Avery is on if she moves a bit! 

Never again will I have 2 labs in the house at once!  Just don't tell Chuckles that she leaves tomorrow...

Training wise I just love having a puppy though!  They learn so fast and have no expectations of how things are supposed to work!


Obedience and Rally Trial

I decided not to enter my boys in the big Land O Lakes trial this year.  No optional titling classes are being offered and I've already had both of the judges for Vito in novice and kind've want a new perspective.  But I did decide to enter both in the trial yesterday at St. Paul.

Lance- Grad Open

Lance got to do graduate open for the 2nd time, and with the same judge.  It was also the first trial since the lower jump heights came into effect for corgis!

Signals- 1.5pts off
Lance starts out real forgy but reels himself back in pretty quick.  Really wide first about turn where he was a bit distracted but once we start heading down the middle of the ring he is back in tune with me.  I decided not to use verbals with the signals and Lance didn't have any problems.  Video shows I sprinted through them though, I'm surprised Lance had time to see them!

Scent article- 3pts
Once again Lance grabs the right one pretty quickly and then drops it.  He carried it further then last time though so maybe he was a bit more confident?  He didn't go to the judge this time and didn't stare at me for very long this time either before going back to work.  Little improvement!

Directed Retrieve- NQ
My bad.  Video shows I didn't pivot as far back as I should have.  I knew he wasn't looking at the glove when I sent him but I thought he would at least head in that direction.  Instead Lance was confused and took the jump, briefly looked at me, then hopped back over and started heading to the glove.  I stepped in and told him to take it again as he was jumping the 2nd time.  The judge later told me that I shouldn't have done that since he felt Lance was already heading back towards the glove. Looking at the video I think he was right, but oh well! 

Moving Stand- .5pt
Much forging for the few steps of heeling.  The stay sucked too.  I thought I felt him moving as I was walking away but I wasn't sure.  The judge only knocked us for the finish so either he wasn't judging as carefully since we had already NQed or he was spacing.

Go Out- 3pts
Like last time, Lance went to the same spot the glove was previously at.  But at least he ran out fast and confident.  He didn't touch the gate though like he is supposed to but did go right up to the gate.  I haven't yet started to ask for a sit before the "whack."

Directed Jump- .5pt
I think he was happy to only jump 8!  He stepped on my foot on the front and I was shocked!  Vito steps on my foot, not the Lance!

Overall- NQ
I'm really happy with how Lance did!  We have a long ways to go and made all of the same mistakes this trial as the last one.  Maybe if Lance and I had made it to more then 1 class since the last trial we could have made some progress; what a crazy idea!

Lance- Bonus Rally!
Lance go to do the dummy run for rally excellent while the last dog held their honor stay.  He really likes rally and performed brilliantly except for one naughty part.  Lance wouldn't do the come front and went back to heel.  I didn't fix it, no point.  Thinking about it now I just realized why he skipped it!  As part of our fixing the forging work I've been backing up whenever he forges.  It looks the exact same as a moving call front except for what I want him to do :P  So I take back the naughty statement, sorry Lance.

Vito- Rally Novice
I somehow missed a dog going in and was shocked to hear my number being called so Vito and I ran right into the ring.  We had been warming up so he wasn't completely brought in cold but it really caught me off guard.  I was really proud of Vito for holding perfect attention at the start line and acting like he was a big boy!  He apparently lost some of that attention with my first few steps and almost missed that I was turning into him.  It was a serpentine though the cones and I bumped him.  Not enough of a mistake to lose any points and the bump served to wake him up and have great heeling the rest of the course.  The run got us our Novice title with a score of 100 and 2nd place.


January Goals

December Progress:
1. Run throughs and new places- mostly fail.  I did 1 run through at the very beginning of the month.  It was to a brand new place, but I didn't go to any pet stores or any where else :(

2. Contacts- I've been doing a lot of proofing in class, and went to an ASCA trial specifically to work on Lance's issue.  What really got Lance to fully miss his floor position was having him in Vito's class for a night!  While he didn't act more distracted or excited then normal he was taking extra strides before downing and once even completely blew off his position!  I was very happy that I got to show him the consequence (being picked up and brought to do it again) in a class environment so he would understand what was happening if I have to do it in a trial.

3.  Drop on recall- semi win (let's be optimistic and say semi win instead of semi fail).  I have introduced the concept to Vito this past month but haven't practiced as much as I would like.  Sometimes he slides to a down instantly but he is also just as likely to take extra strides.  Part of the reason I haven't worked on it as much is because I wanted to reevaluate my plan.  But then I didn't do that either.

4.  Out of sight stays- complete fail.  I did very little stay work this month.  Zero random stays.  Only a few out of sight stays with Vito, where I went in and rewarded every minute but he did fine.

5. Tricks- Win!  I wanted to give one last attempt to teaching them to HOLD their paw on their nose instead of swipping it and it has finally started to pay off!  Vito actually gets it and is starting to hold position, only for 1.5seconds so far.  It's more of tucking his head under his paw then putting his paw on his nose, but I don't care!  It will make it harder to transfer to a sitting position though instead of lying down.  Lance is stalled out although he does understand the freeze concept.  He currently is going on his side and raising his paw in the air, kinda near his nose and holding it.  It's not actually touching though.  I'm not sure if it's physically possible for him to maintain contact or if he's just using his stumpy legs as an excuse!

Bonus: Lance is doing fabulous with his heel work! I have had many sessions where he hasn't forged at ALL!

January Goals:
1. Tricks- Restart work with Lance learning to hold a toy in his paws.  Work on Vito holding a handstand.  Currently he can go up with the help of a wall but doesn't hold it at all.  Freeshape a trick with Chuck that doesn't involve a prop; I'm thinking a simple spin.

2. Scent Articles- haven't done these in a long time.  Need to work at least twice a week :(

3. Halts- Vito has been bumping off of me when I halt during heeling, and on pivots.  Doesn't help that I've rewarded it all the time as I love close heeling.  New plan to work on halts separately from heeling. Lots of 1-3 steps.

4.  Fronts with the DB- Work on Vito sitting close and straight even though he has something in his mouth!


Vito NADAC New Years Trial

Vito's 2nd NADAC trial.  He was thrilled to be back on the astroturf where he was obsessed with rolling around.  It still shocks me since he is not my roller, Lance usually is! 

Vito had a decent weekend.  Some bouncing instead of running showed up again.  Vito had one fabulous dogwalk, where he targeted his leash.  We jumped 20 this trial and only knocked one bar.  He finished up novice in tunnelers and regular.

Vito needs more independence on the hoops, to focus at start lines even when he just wants to roll on the astro turf, and needs not to do one hits on the down plank of dogwalks!  I need to stop doing rear crosses on the "landing" side of hoops and actually tell him when he's going to be turning in a more timely manner.

A combination of not having enough drive towards hoops and wanting to sniff/roll in the astro turf did not make this a pretty run.  I had to redo the first test 3 times, but then Vito finished nicely.  A big positive this run was the HUGE leadout I took and his great performance until just after he caught up to me.

Great run but went too far out the first turn and missed the tunnel entrance.  Found it quickly though and finished nicely.

Regular1- Q
Not sure about his dogwalk, in the yellow but not low and it looks like he jumped.  The video angle is not great for analysis though.  He had some wide turns that I didn't handle very well.  Lovely aframe, and good weaves coming out of a tunnel.

Regular 2-Q
Much nicer!  Beautiful aframe.  I did rears this time and did one well for a tight turn, the other I sucked and thus was wide.  I'm very proud of the sexy dogwalk that I am sure was helped by his leash being on the ground after the jump.  I'm not fully sure if he saw the leash while on the dogwalk, but he definitely targeted it before he took the jump.

Chances- NQ
Very tough course, only one elite dog and one novice dog passed.  I was proud of Vito for getting the first 2 distance challenges but then I was in the wrong spot for the last out and we failed.  Nice aframe contact though.  He knocked the first bar.

Chances- Q
Saturday's chances was much more doable.  Vito nailed the weaves as the 2nd obstacle!!!  I was late on the flip out, again!, but he fixed himself quickly before sucking into the tunnel and we pass.

Weavers- NQ
Not so pretty.  Missed the entry on the first set.  Got the entry on the 2nd set but popped out and took an off course hoop while turning to fix it.  Did the 3rd set just fine.

Regular- Q
Great discrimination and aframe contact.  He stepped on the hoop before the weaves and it slid so I think that's what caused him to miss the weave entrance.  Went out too far on the little pinwheel and missed the 3rd jump.  Only did one stride coming down the dogwalk plank, but did land in the yellow.

Jumpers- NQ
Played with Daddy!  Brainfart by Adam led to Vito missing a jump and unfortunately Adam didn't decide to just continue on.  Instead both dog and human stopped and stared at each other for a little bit.  They did finish up quite nicely though and Vito started to re pick up speed by the end.


Lance NADAC New Years Trial

NADAC weekend!  Our last agility trial for a few months.

Lance was extremely excited to play, would throw himself into multiple rollovers whenever I looked at him during our warmups!  Our Q rate was not so fabulous.  He did perfect "floors" after his contacts on Friday although did get lost under the aframe, twice.  Saturday his dogwalk floor wasn't so good, but his aframe was fabulous.  He needs more work on contact/tunnel discrimination challenges, more work on collecting for weave entrances, and more independence on hoops.

Hoopers- Q
Fabulous run, no zero issues!

Some wider turns, almost missed the entrance to the tunnel on the first turn just like Vito did.  I must not have decelerated enough.  But nice easy run.

Regular- NQ
Did perfect "floors" on both dogwalk and aframe!  Also nailed the discrimination which were both for the contact and not the tunnel, yay for my tunnel suck :)  But he missed a few hoops and I didn't fix them at the end.  He needs them supported more than if they were a jump.

Touch N Go- NQ
Don't know what happened here.  I pulled too hard on the first discrimination and little Lance got lost under the aframe.  Twice.  His floor wasn't lovely and he released as I just started to open my mouth, but I let it slide since I felt bad for the dude.  Later in the run he missed the discrimination and video shows I didn't do a good job handling it at all.  I redid that sequence and he got it the 2nd time.  Both the dogwalk and 2nd Aframe had good floors.

Chances- NQ
The stinker pulled out of his weaves.  I was proud that he collected to make the entry as it's hard for him to weave at the 2nd obstacle, but the moment was short lived as he only did 4 poles before heading to the tunnel.  Was able to call hi back before he went in and he then weaved fine.  Lance did ok the rest of the run, went out too far and took the wrong obstacle and then took another off course when I had to flip him out and he preferred the tunnel instead.  I was a bit late with my cues but he didn't respond late either.

Played with daddy!  He did not want to weave for Adam, missed the first entrance and then they stumbled for a few more attempts.  Adam forgot a cross and then had no clue how to handle a rear at the weaves so Lance turned before even getting to the weaves.  Then Adam had another brainfart and pushed Lance to an off course but Lance was a good boy and pulled out in time.  3rd set of weaves were good.  Somehow they made time and didn't get any off courses :)

Touch n Go- NQ
Bad.  He leaped the dogwalk and took an extra stride afterwards before lying down.  I decided not to redo it so I could redo the aframe which is normally the one he has more problems with, instead I just made him hold his down longer and gave him my "oh oh" marker.  He then missed the aframe and took a tunnel that wasnt even angled at him.  I honestly didn't see the setup as a discrimination challenge so didn't handle it as such.  Video shows him zeroed in on that tunnel  the moment he exited the previous one.  When he did get it the 2nd time it was a perfect floor.  Alas the 2nd time to the aframe he got lost under it again.  I don't know why he thinks I want him to go under it!!!  On the fixes he took the tunnel both times where I then said screw it and finished the course.

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